So this is communism?
Trip Start Feb 26, 2006
53Trip End Sep 16, 2006
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First let's erase all those cold-war stereotypes from your head.
Here in Ho Chi Minh City (the pre-war name was Saigon), there are no squat concrete buildings, boiled potatoes and elderly babushka-wearing women trudging through hip-deep snow drifts.
What you do find is that most people have enough food to eat. There are no mile-long lines outside of the McDonalds. (Oh wait, there aren't any McDonald's..
Welcome to the contradictory face of modern communism.
We are immediately impressed by the palpable presence of a country with a real infrastructure. This is still a developing country with problems as such, but now that we've been here we will never make the mistake of lumping all of the third world countries together as if they all are fishing out the same problems from a communal lot. Were I forced to make a choice, I'd be Vietnamese over Cambodian-- hands down, game over, no contest. The people here are happier, more optimistic. Still likely to rip you off for being a foreigner, but that's part and parcel of the southeast Asia experience.
We stayed with a delightful woman named Allyson, an english teaching Aussie expat and hosptialityclub.org member who shared her beautiful townhome with us for upwards of a week. She was a fantastic host and was great company, providing us with the kind of detailed and quirky perspective that you can only get from a western expat living outside the bounds of conventional western society.
Thanks again Allyson!